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Entries in Best Actor (108)

Saturday
Nov152014

Meet the Contenders: Channing Tatum "Foxcatcher"

Each weekend a profile on a just-opened Oscar contender. Here's abstew on this weekend's new release, Bennett Miller's chilling FOXCATCHER, which won him Best Director at Cannes. 

Channing Tatum as Mark Schultz in Foxcatcher

Best Actor

Born: Channing Matthew Tatum was born April 26, 1980 in Cullman, Alabama

The Role: Bennett Miller, the Academy Award nominated director of Capote (2005) and Moneyball (2011), takes on another film based on a true story. Tatum stars as wrestler and Olympic gold medalist Mark Schultz as he struggles to get by (surviving on ramen and taking $20 inspirational speech gigs) and to ultimately step out of the shadow of his older brother, fellow wrestler and gold medalist, Dave Schultz (Best Supporting Actor contender, Mark Ruffalo). Mark is soon contacted by an eccentric billionaire (Steve Carell playing John du Pont) that encourages Mark (and eventually Dave) to come to his estate near Valley Forge, named Foxcatcher, to train the athletes on his compound.

Tatum met with Miller years before the project got off the ground, but initially passed on the role then fearing he wasn't yet ready to tackle the dark places the character  goes. Once the film was set to go into production, Tatum was ready for the challenge, transforming himself physically (he gained 20 pounds of muscle and trained as a wrestler) and emotionally (Tatum was so intense in one scene where Mark smashes his head in a mirror that he actually cut his own head and put a hole in the wall). 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Nov142014

Oscar's Acting Categories Take Shape. Or Do They?

If you're an Oscar chart junkie, you'll see some key shifts on all four acting charts which are now updated. The biggest switcheroo is Jessica Chastain moving to Supporting Actress (the original prediction back in April) which shakes that field up more than it creates a vacuum with the Best Actress race and both Foxcatcher men dropping out of the predicted lead actor shortlist.

Papa, how can I be too high in rank to dine with the servants and too low to dine with my family?

Best Actress has been hard to suss out beyond two sure things: Julianne Moore as a professor with early on-set Alzheimers and Reese Witherspoon as a woman trying to forgive herself and start anew by hiking the PCT. Both of those films are major star vehicles in that they put their leading actress and her considerable gifts front and center without obstructed views. Gone Girl and The Theory of Everything also look somewhat likely to produce nominees but those are definitely two-lead films which Pike and Jones must share with their screen hubbies. On the podcast this weekend we'll talk more about this race because the field still seems wide open beyond those four names. And, if past years are any indication, one of them could surprisingly drop out. There are a lot of viable women hoping to unseat them, which makes "where are the best actress candidates?" articles in major outlets like THR and The Washington Post absolutely mystifying or ignorant or sexist or something. Something not right is the point. Particular maddening is that THR article which claims two dozen viable Best Actor candidates beyond the presumed frontrunners but will even list the most longshot of longshots like Eller Coltrane (Boyhood) and Al Pacino (The Humbling) and Kevin Costner (Black and White) -- none of which have any heat -- as "credible" contenders but can't think of ANY slightly under the radar women other than Jenny Slate (Obvious Child)? That's wearing some serious blinders to support your thesis. [more...]

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Monday
Nov032014

Review: Nightcrawler

This article was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad.

It would be disingenuous to claim that Jake Gyllenhaal is unrecognizable in Nightcrawler. It's hard not to commit Gyllenhaal to memory once you've seen him. But it would be true to say that he is less recognizable in Nightcrawler. The effect is not unlike the rubberneck squinting at the new Renée Zellweger, trying to place the differences that unsettle you.

The actor dropped 30 lbs to play his new character and lived on the night shift to prepare and it wasn't for the strenuously faux-noble reason of biographic fidelity. It must be method madness that led him to burrow into this altogether terrific star turn as Lou Bloom, a gaunt sleepless thief turned "journalist". The big difference with this Gyllenhaal is in the eyes. Those big impossibly romantic orbs have lost all their soft blueness. They're suddenly bulging from their skull, like they want to escape it. Or like they're planning to hypnotize you while the mouth delivers its mechanical sales pitch.

And with Lou Bloom, the sales pitch never stops. The night owl approaches each conversation like it's a job interview, checking off catchphrases and talking points from his mental checklist. This is all well and good for the film's first reel when Lou is trying to find a job. But when he chances upon an accident one night and sees nightcrawling freelancers filming it, the search is over; he makes it his mission to join this profession. It's here where his can-do "I'm a hard worker" salesmanship begins to ferment and spook. [More...]

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Monday
Oct272014

Does Eddie Redmayne in "Theory of Everything" = Daniel Day Lewis in "My Left Foot"?

A consistent yet elusive golden thrill: that moment in each year's Oscar race wherein everyone disagrees on who and what is the frontrunner in this or that category.

There are a few different schools of thought out there about who might win Best Actor. I have always believed and probably will continue to believe that the race for Oscar nominations is a very different and altogether more interesting contest than who will eventually win them. Because of this I like to focus on that before I get to "who will win" but I'll make an exception today for fun. Most experts (see this handy Gurus of Gold chart) currently name Michael Keaton (Birdman), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) and Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) as the leading threats to win the statue. I agree wholeheartedly with this and actually believe that they're the only three who could pull off a win in this particular year (unless American Sniper is some sort of late breaking Oscar stampeding Million Dollar Baby for Bradley Cooper... but I personally doubt it). Who will fill the other two 'not-in-it-for-the-win' slots is anyone's guess. I've returned again to the unpopular notion that Channing Tatum and Steve Carell will both win Best Actor nominations for Foxcatcher but I've mostly done so under the file labeled "Why Not? Who knows?" The competition for those two final slots is where the action is right now and there are about twelve guys who, with the right combo of precursor support, smart campaign moves, media approval, film heat coattails, and/or old fashioned luck could still pull it off. Any of the 12 who aren't out there fighting for it are, frankly, crazy.

Eddie at an AMPAS screening of THEORY OF EVERYTHINGBut, jumping ahead... who will win? 

On twitter today I was briefly discussing this with Kris & Jenelle and found them both sympathetic to my notion that Redmayne has a rather underdiscussed but considerable advantage in that he is enormously charming in person. When races are tight, charm counts for a lot. I've seen him in public thrice, met him once, and this charm is highly visible. What's more his charm never tilts toward cockiness but toward genuine-feeling humility. That's quite a trick if you stop to think about how actors build successful careers...

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Thursday
Oct232014

Gotham Nominees: Boyhood vs. Birdman vs. Budapest

The Gotham Awards juried nominations have recently surplanted the ancient NBR as the first real awards nomination/wins of the film year. That it happens in October is more than a little crazy, but what'cha gonna do? The New York centric film prizes, think of it as the Spirit Awards's East Coast Cousin albeit with far fewer prizes will be held on December 1st. Since they only have six categories and four separate juries (composed of critics and programmers), multiple nods aren't as easy to come by as they are at other shows but a handful of films managed it: Boyhood, Birdman, Dear White People, Nightcrawler, and Under the Skin.

BEST FEATURE 

 

  • BIRDMAN
  • BOYHOOD
  • GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
  • LOVE IS STRANGE
  • UNDER THE SKIN

Very happy to see the intensely moving Love is Strange, in constant danger of being undervalued, show up. Especially since it didn't show up anywhere else. 199 films were eligible for these honors.

BEST ACTRESS (they don't have lead or supporting designations)

Big year for GUGU with Belle as breakthrough and a nom for Beyond the Lights

  • PATRICIA ARQUETTE, Boyhood
  • SCARLETT JOHANSSON, Under the Skin
  • GUGU MBATHA-RAW, Beyond the Lights
  • JULIANNE MOORE, Still Alice
  • MIA WASIKOWSKA, Tracks

Given that Still Alice is only getting a qualifying Oscar run and there's no proof that it will even play in NYC by the end of the year (LA is the only required theatrical run) I think it's weird to nominate Julianne Moore at the Gothams, however excellent she is in the picture. I wonder what criteria they use for eligibility?

BEST ACTOR (they don't have lead or supporting designations)

 

  • BILL HADER, The Skeleton Twins
  • ETHAN HAWKE, Boyhood
  • OSCAR ISAAC, A Most Violent Year
  • MICHAEL KEATON, Birdman
  • MILES TELLER, Whiplash

Interesting to see Oscar Isaac show up but not Jessica Chastain when the same nominating committee chose for both categories. 

BREAKTHROUGH ACTOR OR ACTRESS

 

  • RIZ AHMED, Nightcrawler
  • MACON BLAIR, Blue Ruin
  • ELLAR COLTRANE, Boyhood
  • JOEY KING, Wish I Was Here
  • JENNY SLATE, Obvious Child
  • TESSA THOMPSON, Dear White People

Slightly odd choices by the breakthrough committee. I love Boyhood and Nightcrawler but it seems weird to single out Coltrane or Ahmed from either, not only because they aren't the MVPs but because their performances just aren't at the same accomplished level as their co-stars. 

BREAKTHROUGH DIRECTOR

 

  • ANA LILY AMIRPOUR, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
  • JAMES WARD BYRKIT, Coherence
  • DAN GILROY, Nightcrawler
  • ELIZA HITTMAN, It Felt Like Love
  • JUSTIN SIMIEN, Dear White People

BEST DOCUMENTARY

  • ACTRESS
  • CITIZENFOUR
  • LIFE ITSELF
  • MANAKAMANA
  • POINT AND SHOOT 

I haven't yet seen Life Itself (I know I know) but I increasingly suspect, based on everything I've read about it, that hero worship is really getting in the way. It's not that I don't appreciate Ebert's work or that I don't understand the need to honor him for a special life in this very specialized field. But as with Oscars view of documentary, sometimes subject matter trumps execution in terms of awardage. Critics complain when that happens. Except when it happens to a movie about a film critic ;) I reserve the right to change my mind and consider it very worthy if I see it but I just wanted to point out that this is always a real danger in awardage for all groups, not just Oscar, the effect of subject matter trumping execution. 

Tuesday
Oct212014

Lunchtime Poll: Multiple Acting Oscars

I was all prepared to list the most Oscar winning Actors for a quickie top ten list. Until I remembered there were only six with 3 or more Oscars (for acting)

Four Leading Oscars
01 Katharine Hepburn
Three Leading Oscars
02 Daniel Day-Lewis
Three Oscars (Lead/Supporting Mix)
[Three-Way Tie]
03 Ingrid Bergman
03 Meryl Streep
03 Jack Nicholson
Three Oscars (Supporting)
06 Walter Brennan

YOUR TASK: Make it a top ten by filling slots seven through ten. Name the four actors who most deserve to join them as three-timers or the ones who seem most likely?

Saturday
Oct182014

Links: Monty, Misty, Michael, More...

Gurus of Gold The new charts. Yes, I need to update the Oscar charts. I'll get started tomorrow!
The Black Maria for his 94th birthday - "Montgomery Clift: The Lost Poet of Omaha"
Serpentine Magazine Pretty Boys & Pathos: The Men of Classic Hollywood
To Be Continued Keith Uhlich on the single takes in American Horror Story, Birdman and Gone Girl
Guardian Scarlett Johansson to star in a live action remake of animated classic Ghost in the Shell 
In Contention let's give Michael Keaton the Oscar

LAFCA will honor Gena Rowlands with their career achievement award this January
CHUD has very mixed feelings on The Book of Life but h-a-t-e-s the soundtrack
The Wrap Actress Misty Upham (Frozen River, August: Osage County) found dead. Initial reports suggest suicide but...
Juliette Lewis (and others who knew her) don't fully believe it and are demanding an investigation
Words & Film thinks St. Vincent is being misrepresented with that dismissive "weepie" brush. But what's wrong with a weepie? 
Deadline Black and White with Kevin Costner & Octavia Spencer to get an Oscar qualifying run
Zap 2 It has a cool feature on three of the freak in American Horror Story: Freakshow 
NPR on Dear White People 

Just 4 Fun
Pointer Pointer another perfect internet time waster
Vulture Anne Rice, Amazon Reviewer